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Governor Wolf Petitions Federal Government to Declare COVID-19 a Major Disaster

On March 29, in a letter to the Trump Administration, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf asked the federal government to declare the commonwealth’s COVID-19 outbreak a major disaster. President Trump approved this request on March 30.

On January 20, 2020, President Trump issued a nationwide emergency proclamation for COVID-19, which provided support for emergency planning and response to the disease. On March 6, Wolf signed a statewide disaster emergency proclamation for COVID-19—this declaration was a necessary precursor for Wolf’s major disaster request.

Under a Disaster Emergency declaration, Pennsylvania will be eligible for additional resources from federal assistance programs, including:

  • Community disaster loans
  • Crisis counseling
  • Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program
  • Disaster unemployment assistance
  • Statewide hazard mitigation

In his request, Governor Wolf outlined the current situation and trajectory of the disease in the commonwealth. He noted that, from January 20, 2020 through March 27, 2020, more than “1,700 eligible state, county, and local government applications have reported incurred costs at approximately $142 million.” The governor projects that “survey applicants have reported that projected costs could exceed $1.2 billion.”

The letter cited COVID-19’s widespread impact on many facets of Pennsylvania’s everyday operations and economy, illness and loss of life, business closures, and unemployment. Wolf pointed to the especially large toll that COVID-19 will take on the state’s health care infrastructure.

During recent weeks, HAP has advocated federal and state governments for additional resources to help the state’s hospital and health care community respond to the short- and long-term implications of COVID-19.

Last week, the state General Assembly passed a $50 million procurement fund to help the health care community secure additional resources and equipment to treat patients and protect staff. The U.S. Congress passed an additional $2 trillion in COVID-19 relief, including a $100 billion emergency fund grant program for health care providers.

For more information, contact Warren Kampf, HAP’s senior vice president, advocacy and external affairs, or Laura Stevens Kent, HAP’s senior vice president, strategic integration.


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